Ramona Ramdial, Member of Parliament (MP) for Couva North is calling on newly installed Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary, Ancil Dennis to come clean and explain how questionable “ghost hotels” qualified to be on their listing as
recipients for the $50million COVID-19 relief fund.
In a media release, Ramdial said based on information coming from the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) there are at least 270 unregistered, unknown hotel businesses listed for funding out of the total of 449 hotels listed.
She said THTA has rejected the list done by Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) since they have included unregistered hoteliers.
“THTA has proposed that the distribution of the $50million be sent to the Business Development Unit of the Division of Community Development, Enterprise & Labour.”
“They are also claiming that many small and medium hotels will not benefit from this fund as the application process was difficult and that the large accommodation sector which employs over 1000 workers was given the smallest proportion of the relief fund.”
Ramdial urged Dennis to consider and implement the alternative proposal for relief distribution sent in by THTA.
“Failure to incorporate the THTA recommendations will be seen as a strategy of election campaigning by the PNM led THA to distribute free money to these undeserving, unregistered hotels.”
Ramdial said that after three years, the police investigations into the missing $10million stolen by THA officers are still ongoing.
“Therefore in the name of transparency and accountability the management and distribution of the $5 million must move away from the THA as suggested by THTA.
Meanwhile. Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Ancil Dennis has called Ramdial claims unfounded.
Dennis said that TTAL used an audit to inform the policy on grant distribution, adding that only tax-payers and those registered properties can access the grant.
Dennis said, “We have to spend taxpayers money responsibly in this guava season…I will meet with them (THTA). I am open to their proposal but it must be reasonable, given the current circumstances.”